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Restaurant review: Rock 'n' Roll Grill

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The Rock ’n’ Roll Grill’s hickory chicken burger is piled high with pepper jack cheese, bacon, onion rings, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and barbecue sauce. It comes wih a generous side of hand-cut fries.

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The Rock ’n’ Roll Grill features burgers, wraps and Asian food — each category with its own extensive menu.

Rock ’n’ Roll Grill, the Ave’s freshest restaurant, stands out in a number of ways. Its spacious interior and long, multistationed ordering counter make it more akin to a cafeteria than a conventional restaurant. The vibrant, pastel-colored walls, red pleather booths and squeaky-clean white-topped tables create an interesting interior aesthetic. Rock ’n’ Roll Grill’s most notable feature, however, is the sheer size of its menu.

The menu has three discrete elements: burgers, wraps and Asian cuisine. Each of these broad food categories encompasses a sub-menu that could easily stand on its own. The burger menu, for example, features at least 20 items and provides greater variety than some of the Ave’s burger joints. A patron could spend an academic quarter’s worth of lunches at Rock n’ Roll Grill and still not make it through every meal.

The restaurant’s vast selection is undoubtedly a strength. The Rock ’n’ Roll Grill features enough large tables to accommodate restaurant-going groups with conflicting culinary interests. It is not uncommon to see a patron eating a juicy burger and another chowing down on a generous plate of teriyaki at the same table.

The restaurant’s Asian menu is comparable to those found at dedicated Asian restaurants, and primarily features teriyaki and Chinese dishes. Menu similarities do not necessarily equate to taste comparability, unfortunately. Entrees like the kung pao chicken are sauced so heavily that it becomes difficult to distinguish one vegetable by taste from another, and tidbits of chicken become submerged in overpowering pools of sauce.

The inclusion of wraps on the menu provides a Subway-like outlet for the health-conscious. Customers can pick from more than a dozen house wraps and watch the chosen wrap be made in front of them. The B-L-A-T wrap, a typical medley of bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato, could have been named M-E-H. The Athens steak wrap is a juicy option for those who love their Greek food stuffed inside a tortilla. Patrons who want to build their own wraps can do so via a handy checklist.

Burgers are probably Rock ’n’ Roll Grill’s greatest strength. Thick, juicy, well-vegetated and served with generous amounts of thick-cut fries, the burgers firmly reinforce the word “grill” in the restaurant’s title. The hickory chicken burger, for example, is both a shirt stain in the making and a demonstration of the merit of condiments other than ketchup and mustard. Rock ’n’ Roll Grill also offers turkey and veggie patties for those who wish to look beyond conventional beef and chicken patties.

The diverse menu comes at a cost, however. Patrons looking for the best wrap or Asian food on the Ave should skip Rock ’n’ Roll Grill altogether, and burger lovers will find that it makes a mediocre substitute for their established favorites.

Portions are substantial for most entrees. Wraps are the best choice for those with smaller appetites, while the teriyaki and other rice-meat-vegetable dishes lavish egregious amounts of food onto patrons. Entree prices are comparable to those of analogous dishes at the Ave’s other restaurants; a full meal of an entree and a beverage can be purchased for $9 to $12.

Overall, Rock ’n’ Roll Grill should be viewed as a place where every taste can be met and every stomach filled. It is fairly typical for the restaurants that populate the Ave — cheap, quick, filling and light on frills — and thus should not be approached with high expectations. So, while it will never top any “best-of” lists, Rock ’n’ Roll Grill will undoubtedly be at home in the U-District.

Find Rock ’n’ Roll Grill at 4209 University Way NE.

Reach reporter Andy Fulton at weekender@dailyuw.com.

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